1.) Please introduce yourself. Since when are you mentoring at NMA?
Hi, I am André, a Customer Insights Nerd and Co-Founder & CEO of tractionwise. So far, companies often fail because they are too product-focused and at the end of the day they build solutions that nobody needs. We support companies with customer development solutions to enrich sales, marketing and, not to forget the product genesis.
I started mentoring the NMA teams in the area of customer insights and go to market in autumn 2018 with batch 7.
2.) Your company tractionwise resulted out of a former „f*ck-up“ — what was your major learning and what can you recommend to early-stage founders?
You are right, what tractionwise has in the core as value proposition today is what we failed a few years ago and stopped our first startup.
The 3 essential lessons that I can only recommend to early-stage founders:
Show interest for the customer: Understand the customers and their current situation without trying to sell them your product/service too early. It is enough to ask the essential and smart questions to quickly become aware of the pain points.
Execute: For sure, you could stay in long theoretical planning periods. Get out and execute to reach your goals. As Mike Tyson said: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Don’t overengineer: Yes, it’s nice and comfortable to sit in your own office and develop the Bells and Whistles of features. That is the mood of “build it and they will come”. Simplify your solution as much as possible. Cut the “nice to haves” and enhance the “must-haves”. This is where you have to talk to your potential customers.
3.) Break down the Buzzword „traction“ — what does really matter about it? What is the essence?
Traction is the crystal clear difference between a very nice idea (believe me, there are many out there) and a viable business. You will reach Traction when you manage to move forward, even with limited resources. It can be simply measured by the growing number of customer interviews, website traffic, proposals sent or contracts signed.
4.) Now that we demystified „traction“ — name and explain three simple general steps a startup can use to attain it.
1. Understand and profile customers
Dive into the market and underserved needs of existing players into your segment. Understand dynamics within decision-making units or buying centers and recognize social and psychological patterns in customer persona by empathy.
2. Design value proposition
Discover not yet or poorly defined categories and become the category leader. Within this category, you develop a crisp and honest value proposition. Derive the stringent storyline for your different personas.
3. Find, execute and optimize the right channels
Free yourself from channel bias through brainstorming available marketing channels. Reduce the most likely working channels. Test lean and achieve a sustainable marketing portfolio with channels as spears, nets, and seeds (short, medium and long term reach).